By: Jay Conner, The Root
Los Angeles, CA — Jodeci, SWV and Dru Hill brought their Summer Block Party Tour to YouTube Theater on Thursday, while Maxwell took over the iconic Hollywood Bowl this weekend. Between Hollywood strikes, one too many internet scandals, and a complimentary side of climate change, this summer was definitely one to remember. But as sundress season draws to a close, some of your favorite artist’s favorite artists have descended upon Los Angeles to help bid farewell to the summer that was.
After Beyoncé set up shop at SoFi Stadium during Labor Day Weekend—leaving man, woman, and friendships in her wake—on Thursday, Jodeci, SWV, and Dru Hill brought their Summer Block Party Tour next door to Inglewood’s YouTube Theater and sprinkled a little flavor of their own—because of course, they did.
With Dru Hill serving as the “opening act”—which is about as fair as Michael Jordan coming off the bench and dropping 50 points—Sisqo and the Dru Hill Mississippi Mass Choir (the group currently stands at seven members and counting as they celebrate 25 years in the game) delivered pristine vocal after pristine vocal while serenading the audience with their extensive catalog of hits. From “Never Make a Promise” to “5 Steps” to “I Love You” from 2002’s Dru World Order, the former Def Jam signees proved that not only is R&B very much alive, but so are singers that can actually sing.
Next up was SWV, who brought an unexpected level of energy considering their biggest songs reside on the other end of the spectrum. Adorned in sparkling red outfits, the legendary trio blessed every 80s (and 70s) baby in the audience with smash hit after smash hit, before closing out their set with the Above the Rim banger “Anything.” And while the internet insists Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams is the reigning Queen of Bridges (I’ma go with “hell” and “no” on that one), Taj caught the Holy Ghost during “Use Your Heart” and reminded everyone that the crown never left her head. Also, in living up to their namesake, it was dope that not only did each of the Sisters With Voices treat the crowd to a solo performance (although Taj delivering the entire Wu-Tang Clan’s bars during “Anything” was an unexpected bonus), but they brought out the man who wrote some of their biggest songs, Brian Alexander Morgan, to thank him for his contributions to their legacy.
Closing out the show was Jodeci, who brought the house down with live renditions of “Come and Talk to Me,” “Stay”, “Freek’n You,” and my personal choice for greatest song in the history of ever, “What About Us.” Additionally, there’s been plenty of concern about JoJo’s health in recent months, but it was a relief to see him looking healthy and whole as he crooned his heart out alongside his bandmates. However, Mr. Dalvin was the MVP of the night, as he kept the crowd hyped while making sure not to detract from K-Ci and JoJo’s lead vocals. I can’t be the only one who misses the days of K-Ci riding around the venue on his bodyguard’s shoulders (y’all weren’t outside for that), but with his fellow Bad Boys of R&B in tow, the older Hailey brother seems to be settling in nicely as one of R&B’s elder statesmen.
Not to be outdone, however, is Maxwell, who took over the Hollywood Bowl—one of the most iconic outdoor venues in the entire world—this past weekend for three consecutive nights. Boasting Spotify favorites Pink Sweats, Inglewood’s own SiR, and Raveena as his opening acts, the BLACKsummers’night singer brought his “Pretty Wings” to thousands (upon thousands) of swooning fans. And as he sauntered through hits like “Lifetime,” “Fortunate,” and “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” his exuberant dance moves were on full display. He also treated the crowd to favorites like “Lake by the Ocean” and “Get to Know Ya” before closing the night out with his signature song, “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” accompanied by a gorgeous fireworks display that lit up the Hollywood sky.
There’s nothing like summer concerts in Los Angeles, and while I’m definitely gonna miss spending my nights at some of my favorite venues throughout the city, I can’t think of a better way to usher in the fall than with a proper send-off from the likes of Jodeci, SWV, Dru Hill, and Maxwell.